Safety concerns delay restart of children’s hospital construction

Proximity of St James’s hospital to building site among factors delaying work

With work on the new national children’s hospital stopped since March 31st because of the Covid-19 crisis, further delays in completing the project, as well as further cost increases, are likely.

With work on the new national children’s hospital stopped since March 31st because of the Covid-19 crisis, further delays in completing the project, as well as further cost increases, are likely.

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Construction work on the €1.7 billion new national children’s hospital has yet to restart despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. More than three weeks on, work has yet to resume on the half-built building on the campus of St James’s Hospital.

Safety concerns relating to the proximity of the adult hospital to the construction site during the Covid-19 outbreak are believed to be among the factors delaying the resumption of work, according to one source. Several storeys of the building have been erected, though doors and windows have not yet been put in.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, which is building the facility, said it remained engaged with the main contractor in relation to reopening the construction site.

The project has been plagued by controversies over location and cost overruns, and is already years behind schedule. A previous stoppage was estimated to have added €10 million a month to the cost of construction.

With work stopped since March 31st because of the Covid-19 crisis, further delays in completing the project, as well as further cost increases, are likely. The Construction Industry Federation has warned social distancing and other infection control measures necessitated by the virus will significantly add to general building costs.

“It is too early at this point to fully assess what impact Covid-19 might have on the new children’s hospital project,” a board spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

Staff of the board, the contractors and the design team are continuing to work remotely on all construction elements of the projects in the interim, in line with Government guidance, she added.

Contract

Bam, the building contractor, declined to comment. A row over the building contract between the board and Bam was admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court in late April.

The board is taking legal proceedings against Bam Building Ltd over a claim by the company disputing the validity of an instruction by the board to start above-ground construction works in January 2019.

Bam claims the board was required to give it a “complete, fully co-ordinated” design before the instruction could issue and had not done so.

The issue came before the court after conciliation failed to settle the differences between the two sides.

It was essential “this fundamental contractual issue” was resolved “in order to rigorously defend the public purse”, the board told the court.

Bam is considering lodging a counter-claim, the court also heard.

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